As more facts and counterfacts dribble out regarding Mark Foley, I’m slowly getting a handle on a bigger picture. Here’s what I see:
Foley was, until recently, a closeted gay. As of about a year ago, the Republican leadership knew that Foley had sent emails to pages. The emails were awkward and bland, but could not reasonably give rise to any concern. Unbeknownst to Republican leadership, Foley had also sent more salacious IMs to pages. As the Hotline points out, there is a huge difference between the emails, which are bland, and the IMs, which are overtly sexual. The Republicans knew of the former, but not the latter. The MSM nevertheless consistently writes of the two in the same voice, making it appear as if the Republicans had seen the IMs as well as the emails.
The pages were sixteen or older. Although, as a parent, I consider sixteen still a child, in the jurisdictions at issue, it is above the age of consent for actual sex. I’m also not entirely certain whether any other laws apply, although I’ll be the first to admit my complete ignorance about the law in the area of child solicitation. Nevertheless, at first glance, there seem to be some problems with the two statutes I’ve seen cited. For example, without knowing more facts, 18 USC § 2251, I don’t see how § 2251 applies here. Although cases may have interpreted the statute differently, a superficial reading indicates that it is limited to situations in which adults try to get children to posing for pictures and videos, or to leave the country for sexual purposes, neither of which seems to apply here. I don’t know if the endlessly long and convoluted Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is more applicable but that may be a moot point. That act went into effect in 2006 and, as I understand it, Foley’s conduct predated the Act.
Anyway, back to the timeline: As Clarice Feldman explains, Soros-funded groups got hold of the sexual IMs (the ones the Republicans hadn’t seen) back in Spring and held onto them. Using a front website, they eventually placed the emails on the internet and conveniently “discovered” this nonentity of a website just in time for the current election cycle. Since then, in chorus with Republicans (myself included, when I first heard the story), the Democrats — stalwarts of a party that constantly claims Republicans are homophobic — have cheerfully been castigating Foley as a pervert (see here and here for example).
Foley’s conduct does not make for a pretty story, but it’s not the story we first believed. Foley looks like a creep and a predator, but not a criminal. The Republican leadership, on the facts I’ve described above, doesn’t looked as if it had facts sufficient to make a reasonable person act. To my partisan mind, the only ones who look really bad are the Soros groups, which sat on emails they now contend show a crime against children, and the Democrats, generally, who have suddenly started calling a large group of their constitutents “perverts.” In other words, this is not really a sex scandal; it’s just politics as usual.
UPDATE: Mark Levin has more on when people knew about the emails (including the press) and on the fact that the emails didn’t set off any warning bells for anyone.
UPDATE II: And if you want the full “pot calling kettle black” story — that is to say, the reason why the Democrats are not in a position to cast as perversion and political death homosexual scandals or “sex with minors” scandals — Andrew Walden has a rundown of stories about scandals that affected Democrats.
UPDATE III: Thanks for the correction, S. Smith. I’ve changed those “Thomas” references to Mark. They’re not typos, I make, they’re “thinkos.”